Sepsis guidelines follow Savita Halappanavar death review

Leo Varadkar says recommendations drawn up to improve hospital performance

Savita Halappanavar died one week after she was admitted to University Hospital Galway when she was 17 weeks pregnant and miscarrying in late 2012. File photograph: The Irish Times

Savita Halappanavar died one week after she was admitted to University Hospital Galway when she was 17 weeks pregnant and miscarrying in late 2012. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

New guidelines have been published to improve the performance of hospitals in treating patients with sepsis, two years after the death of Savita Halappanavar from the condition.

The sepsis guidelines are one of three sets of clinical guidelines published by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to promote safety and higher standards in hospitals.

Two of the guidelines are designed for maternity hospitals, where a patient early warning system is being standardised and clinical handover communications tools introduced.

The sepsis guidelines aim to tackle sepsis for all patients, adults and children, in emergency departments and hospital wards.

All three guidelines were recommended by the Health Information and Quality Authority following Ms Halappanavar’s death in University Hospital Galway in 2012.

In a report published last year, Hiqa was critical of the absence of a nationally agreed definition of maternal sepsis and found inconsistencies in the recording and reporting of the condition.

Extreme manifestations

Mr Varadkar, speaking at the launch of the guidelines in Dublin Castle, pointed out sepsis is the tenth leading cause of death worldwide and the management of its extreme manifestations, severe sepsis and septic shock are considered a time-dependent medical emergency.

“The guidelines published today by my department provide recommendations and practical guidance for critical high impact clinical areas.

“This is why I, as Minister, am involved in order that I can ensure that guidelines of this standard are seen as a priority for full implementation across the health system.”

The guidelines, which have been internationally peer reviewed, were commissioned by the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC) working in partnership with the HSE, expert clinicians, regulatory bodies, postgraduate training bodies, private hospitals and patients.

Appropriate approaches

The guidelines are statements which outline the most appropriate approaches for clinical practice.

Ms Halappanavar died one week after she was admitted to the Galway hospital when she was 17 weeks pregnant and miscarrying.

Subsequent reports were critical of the failure of staff to detect a sudden deterioration in her condition following the onset of sepsis.

Saolta, the local hospital group, is due to publish a report next week outlining the progress made on implementing the recommendations of reports since her death.